Bob Dole said Saturday that the FBI files controversy was the latest in a "pattern of ethical arrogance" in which the Clinton administration had abused its powers, violated privacy rights and stonewalled investigators.
"The Clinton administration came into office vowing to set a new ethical standard," said Dole, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. "Unfortunately, the standard they have set cannot be defended. America deserves better."Dole said the administration was still refusing to turn over 2,000 pages of documents requested by a House committee investigating prior White House conduct, including the 1993 firings of White House travel office employees.
"It is now time for the White House to put the unanswered questions to rest," Dole said. "I urge the president, and the men and women who work for him, to cooperate with the search for the truth."
Dole delivered his critique through the GOP response to President Clinton's weekly radio address. With the presidential campaign taking shape, Republican officials say the Dole campaign will take the lead role in selecting the GOP's weekly speakers.
The White House wasted no time responding, with spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn saying, "If Sen. Dole had any vision for America. . . . he would not have devoted his entire radio address to this subject."
Harold Ickes, the top political aide at the White House, said of Dole's remarks: "It's obvious he is very short on ideas about dealing with the real issues of the country and is taking the Republican approach of attacking and trying to divide and attacking character."
In the FBI files episode, the administration has acknowledged requesting more than 400 FBI background investigations of people who had security clearance to enter the White House during prior administrations. Many of those whose files were requested were prominent aides to Republican Presidents Reagan and Bush, who are still active in GOP affairs.
Clinton has apologized and blamed the episode on a bureaucratic error by aides. The aides, in turn, said they were acting off a list provided by the Secret Service. But the Secret Service has disputed that account and said it has no idea where the list came from.